UWC claimed only a single victory – against FNB UFS Shimlas – from five matches last year, before the tournament was suspended and effectively voided because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
As Treu recently suggested to varsitycup.co.za, 2020 is best left in the past.
“Lionel Langenhoven took over from Chester [Williams] last year under very difficult circumstances [as interim head coach] and he remains part of our coaching team as scrum coach. Lionel had a lot to deal with and unfortunately, the results didn’t go their way, although they did beat Shimlas in Bloemfontein,” he opined.
Having been appointed in July 2020 and subsequently had a chance to ascertain what’s needed for UWC to have successful 2021 and 2022 seasons, to avoid the drop back to FNB Varsity Shield, Treu has not wasted time getting to work.
“We’ve since implemented a new system, culture, standards and high-performance programme at UWC,” he revealed.
There is an oft-used saying that ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, and in that regard Treu is well aware that challenges remain this time around, not least because of the truncated ‘bubble’ format.
“We have done as much as we can from coaching and scientific perspectives to prepare the players for this campaign. Player recovery will be important during the tournament and you don’t want to overload players with too much detail in between games.”
Counting in UWC’s favour is that a healthy number, 25, of their 43-player squad are returnees, while a further nine will be stepping up from their Young Guns squad - who'll be inactive this year.
“We are very fortunate to have a good group of senior players, including [centre] Lyle Hendricks, [lock] Pieter-Steyl Swanepoel, [hooker, and 2020 captain] Jacques van Zyl, [prop] Justin Theys and [scrumhalf] Branden de Kock.
We also have two 19-year-old Western Province-contracted players who will start studying at UWC this year, [hooker] Lukhanyo Vokozela and [prop] Lamla Nunu.”
As it happens, Vokozela will miss this year’s tournament as he has been named in the SA Rugby Academy squad which will be based together from 7 April-30 June in Stellenbosch – covering almost the entire period that Varsity Cup 2021 will be taking place in Tshwane at the University of Pretoria.
They aren’t the only UWC players who have been catching the eye. The aforementioned Hendricks is contracted to Western Province and been a Stormers squad member since 2020. Then there’s hooker Jason Alexander, tighthead prop Dandré Degenaar and flyhalf Mikyle Vraagom who all featured in the provincial Under-21 tournament in late 2020.
“We’d like to get more youngsters like them to come to UWC so we can build a sustainable system and programme,” Treu concluded.
UWC VARSITY CUP 2021 SQUAD
Forwards (23): Jason Alexander, Luvo Bazi, Reece Bocks, Ebrahiem Davids, Dandré Degenaar, Jaen-Louis de Lange, Phillip Engelbrecht, Bradman Grove, Johan Lamprecht, Tinotenda Mavesere, Jacques Mostert, Bronlee Mouries, Godfrey Muzanarwo, Romuald Ntumba, Lamla Nunu, Pieter-Steyl Swanepoel, Mauritz Swart, Liam Tattersall, Justin Theys, Thristan Valentyn, Riaan van der Merwe, Jacques van Zyl, Lukhanyo Vokozela.
Backs (20): Taariq Albertus, Keanan Boonzaaier, Schalk Carstens, Jason Cloete, Conwill Conradie, Branden de Kock, Ethan Diston, Hedley Hadlow, Lyle Hendricks, Tiaan Henecke, Tandile Hoyi, Patrick Kotze, André Manuel, Lundi Msenge, Tasriq Mynhardt, Gilroy Philander, Aydon Topley, Johannes van Biljon, Mikyle Vraagom, Peter Williams.
Head Coach of Rugby: Paul Treu
Attack coach: Ricky Petersen
Scrum coach: Lionel Langenhoven
Lineout coach: Niekie Viljoen
Strength and conditioning coach: Lubabalo Faleni
Team manager and video analyst: Aneesah Adams
Sport scientist: Jenna Bam
Physiotherapists: Wernich Smith, Robyn Phillips
Biokineticist: Alice Hlungwani
Physician: Dr Byron Haupt
High Performance Centre support staff: Keenan Watson (strength and conditioning), Kirsten Huckle (biokineticist)
*To get to know Paul Treu and his plans for FNB UWC, read the latest edition of Blue and Gold by clicking HERE.